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Motion sensors are already a part of our lives, whether you know it or not. These little sensors are used to turn on your phone automatically when you need it. They’re used in simple mechanisms like in sinks at busy washrooms. But you’ll only fully realize how awesome they are when they enter your home.
The motion sensor is one of the most important parts into making your home smart. You’d be surprised how little it costs to get a basic motion sensor. You can pick up five infrared motion sensors for as little as one dollar each. Motion sensors also work easily with popular DIY electronic kits like the Raspberry Pi or Arduino.
Here’s a brief glance into the various ways in which motion detectors will make your life far easier once you adopt them.
1. Automatically Switch on Front Porch Light
One thing we learned from the man who has lived in a smart home for 20 years is to start with something small, like lights. So your motion detector journey should also begin with that. The easiest setup, and one that will fill you with joy, is to switch on the front porch light when you enter your property.
You can buy these easily online, but why buy expensive items when you can roll up your sleeves and make your own for cheap? Instructables user Ayush Sharma has a step-by-step guide on how to make a simple motion sensor light. Total cost? $7. No-brainer, this one.
2. Open the Garage Door Automatically
Set up a motion detector at the base of your driveway. Connect it to your garage door opener. When your car pulls in, the door will open automatically. It couldn’t be simpler. In fact, there are already motion detector garage door openers. Try Genie or Chamberlain, they seem to have good reviews on Amazon.
Apart from opening the door, you can also set up simple automation to switch on the lights when you drive up, just like the front porch light.
3. “Honey, I’m Home!”
Got a garage with two car bays? Set up one motion sensor in each bay. When your car or your partner’s car parks in the bay, the motion sensor will detect it. Then it’s a simple matter of connecting that sensor to a Raspberry Pi or Arduino to do a whole host of things.
The coolest would be to send a message to your other half’s smartphone, saying you’re home. You can also program it to automatically start the lights in the house (if they’re switched off) or turn the thermostat to your preferred setting. It’s quite easy to program these things, and actually a fun way to learn coding.
4. Catch the Sneaky Culprits
Worried about your kids sneaking out of the home after curfew? Want an alarm to see if someone has broken into the outhouse? Motion sensors are the easiest way to get it done. Set up a sensor at each door or window. Switch them on when you go to bed. Just like that, you’ll be alerted every time someone is coming in or not when they’re not supposed to.
In fact, you could add a webcam and get a photo of the culprit in action! It’s not difficult at all to create a DIY motion security camera with a Raspberry Pi, and it will cost you a fraction of the price of buying an off-the-shelf item.
5. Save Energy Costs
Your thermostat doesn’t need to be working overtime when you’re not at home. The lights should switch off when you leave home. Your computer should also go into sleep mode. A motion sensor can do all that.
Set up a sensor at all entry points, and enable a simple counter script. Once the number of people who enter and the number of people who exit is the same, your desired energy savings can kick in after five minutes. It’s a smart technology to lower your home’s carbon footprint.
6. Get Reminders Before You Leave
You’re walking out of the house. You know you’re forgetting something your husband told you about, but you can’t remember what it is. What if he could have left you a reminder as soon as you open the door?
Memo Minder (UK) is a motion-activated reminder gadget. You record messages into it. When you walk past the door, it’ll play back the message. So you can leave one message for the thing everyone always forgets (“Have you taken your keys?”) or something customized for a particular individual.
It’s actually a fantastic smart device to keep an eye on elder folks. But that doesn’t mean us young ones can’t use it to augment our addled memories too?
7. Start Your PC and Programs Automatically
Picture this. You set up a motion sensor in your parking spot at the office. As soon as you drive in, a message is sent to a little box connected to your work desk. This box will switch on your PC, and then automatically start the programs you use regularly. By the time you walk into the office, your work desk is ready for action!
There’s already a simpler version of this you can make for yourself. Instructables user PeterSmaal made a cute little box that automatically starts programs using a motion detector. What you’ll be doing is an advanced version of that, but begin with Peter’s setup and then move on upwards.
8. Make Your Pet’s Life Easier
A dog is a man’s best friend, but a smart home with a motion sensor is the dog’s best friend. If the dog is in the backyard and wants to be let back in, he can activate the motion sensor to get in.
And if you’re a cat person, here’s a fantastic suggestion by our managing editor Ryan Dube:
Use a motion detection camera to send you a picture of the cat litter box after your cat has used it. You’ll know whether you need to clean it or not, without actually going to check each time.
If your nostrils are as weak as Ryan’s, this is going to be a gift from the heavens. It’s time to become a smarter pet owner with the help of technology.
9. A Candid Portrait of Your Life
You’ve probably seen several of those “one photo a day” videos and projects on the internet. How about making a similar video that offers a candid snapshot of your life at home?
Connect a motion sensor to an unused camera. Every time someone walks by, the camera will take a photo. Pretty soon, you’ll have a lovely portrait of your life at home.
It’s your call on where you want to set your camera and sensor. If you put a large enough memory card in your camera and lower the resolution, you should be able to click over 100 photos a day for a year. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make a DIY motion-triggered camera.
10. Check Up on the Elderly
Older folks understandably like their own independence. But you would obviously want to keep an eye on them, in case they have a fall at home or something.
Set up a motion sensor by their bed, so that in case they fall, they can wave their arm to call for help. Or if they’re at an age where they need help getting in and out of places, motion sensors are the easy way to know when they are trying to move.
Remember, it costs a buck to get a motion sensor, but it’s going to cost you a heavy conscience and large medical bills if you weren’t there for a loved one.
What’s Your Genius Motion Sensor Idea?
Once you start thinking of how motion sensors can improve your life, you will come up with a million possibilities and ideas. Much like many of these have inspired you, share your insights with others to inspire them!
Tell us how you would use a motion sensor to make your life easier.